Hatchards - The Oldest Bookshop in London & the UK
Updated: Feb 22, 2022
Welcome to the official bookseller to the royal household! UK’s and London’s oldest bookshop was founded in 1797 by John Hatchard, an anti-slavery campaigner, bookseller, and publisher.
Nestled in a bustling block of Piccadilly, across the street from the Royal Academy of Arts and right next to Fortnum and Mason, Hatchards is one of the oldest booksellers in existence and has three Royal Warrants from Her Majesty the Queen, HRH The Prince of Wales, and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. Other notable royal associations with the royal family include Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III, who was one of their first customers.
Since Georgian times, the beautiful five-storey bookshop has been a jaw-dropping cultural and literary landmark on one of the finest and most famous streets in the world, Piccadilly, occupying the building at number 187. Visitors are particularly amazed by the peacefulness that graces among the well-stocked whimsical aisles, the fresh, lively, majestic flower arrangements that brighten up every room, and the painstakingly-arranged books on mahogany tables with sublimely-polished pedestal legs.
The over-two-centuries-old iconic shop, one of the most beloved places for book lovers in Europe and all over the world, is notorious for its close relationships with a vast spectrum of celebrated literary writers from Oscar Wilde to Bette Davis and artistic, social, or political authors. By the way, did you know that Hatchards was Oscar Wilde’s favourite bookshop? He signed his books sitting at the main table (located on the ground floor) - today known as “Oscar's table.”
Besides being every author’s literary heaven, Hatchards' skillful booksellers are distinguished for their unparalleled expertise, knowledge, and reading recommendations. They produce yearly catalogues, send new, rare, or antiquarian books anywhere in the world, arrange wedding lists or help with the creation of bespoke libraries.
Continuing the ground-breaking work of Mr. Hatchard, the bookshop also offers individually-curated subscriptions. Every month, after a consultation with one of Hatchards’ specialist booksellers, obsessive bibliophiles can have the most appropriate book for their taste hand-picked by an expert and delivered to their door in a beautiful gift wrap. Subscriptions range from fiction, non-fiction, a mix of the two, to travel, art, or children’s books.
In 2014 a second branch opened in St. Pancras International providing the same 5-star level of professional service to “erudite Londoners” as well as international bookish travellers flocking to Europe on the Eurostar. The St. Pancras station shop is right next door to Fortnum and Mason, honouring and continuing the centuries-old neighbourly tradition on Piccadilly.
Ewan Venters, CEO of Fortnum and Mason, said: “We've stood side by side with Hatchards for well over 200 years and have benefited from customers coming to their store to buy books, before taking a few extra steps along Piccadilly to enjoy the wondrous drinks, foods, and gifts, we sell. Likewise, hundreds of thousands of people that have made trips to Fortnum's have subsequently stepped into Hatchards. We're thrilled to know that their shop is next to us at St. Pancras International.” (source: www.thebookseller.com)
And since wine and browsing books work temptingly well together, the St. Pancras bookshop also has a license to serve coffee and wine to in-store customers, encouraging readers to spend more time in bookshops, sit and enjoy a glass of wine or a cup of coffee while searching for books or reading.
Hatchards’ dark wood shelves are home to everything from limited edition art books, to portable paperbacks, the latest bestsellers, or classic children’s story books. Apart from being able to order any book in print, Hatchards can also source the finest copies of many editions that are out of print.
The Piccadilly shop hosts a full calendar of literary events throughout the year, including book launches, special customer evenings, panel discussions, and book signings designed to bring writers and readers together, and many authors are their loyal customers.
After delighting eight generations of passionate booksellers and bibliophiles through the most challenging times, the essence of 187 Piccadilly stays the same, making Hatchards a matchless British institution.
📍 Hatchards Bookshop, 187 Piccadilly, St. James's, London W1J 9LE
⏰ Opening Hours: Monday - Saturday: 9:30 am – 7 pm; Sunday: 12 – 6 pm
🚇 The nearest London Underground stations are Green Park, Hyde Park Corner, and Piccadilly Circus (all on the Piccadilly line).